Cameron Scott scored a hat-trick of tries as Leigh Centurions continued their winning start to the season with a hard-earned win over Halifax at Leigh Sports Village.
The on-loan Hull FC winger scored twice in the first half before adding a crucial third with 11 minutes remaining as Leigh regrouped after the dismissal of Jarrod Sammut just before half-time.
Sammut’s red card for a dangerous tackle came just four minutes after Adam Higson had been sinbinned after an off the ball clash meaning Leigh were down to 11 men for a short spell.
Leigh Head Coach John Duffy was pleased with the way his side were able to find a way to win despite being a man down for the majority of the game. He said: “We dropped our standards at the end of the first half by getting involved in a few bust-ups. There was a bit of niggle going on to say the least. I don’t feel our players were being protected.
“But I thought we managed the game really well in the second half – I thought we were absolutely sensational. When we started the second half with 11 men we were still on top and that tells you everything you need to know about our own squad.”
Leigh made an outstanding start, scoring three times in the first 17 minutes. Hooker Liam Hood took a short pass from Craig Mullen to score in the fifth minute and Ben Reynolds added the conversion. Then it was time for Scott to take centre stage, scoring twice in six minutes as Leigh made the most of space on the left edge, building a 14-0 lead.
The visitors replied with two tries in quick succession through Jodie Broughton and Ed Barber, the latter converted by Steve Tyrer cutting Leigh’s lead to just four. Things got worse for Leigh as Higson was shown the yellow card moments before Sammut saw red for a dangerous tackle so the home side ended the half with 11 men.
The tone for the second half was set as a determined charge from Leigh forced Halifax to drop out straight from the kick-off and they added to their lead with a Reynolds penalty after a high shot on Danny Addy. Reynolds kicked another penalty after a dangerous tackle in the 46th minute to open up an eight-point lead and better was to follow for the Centurions as Higson finished off a fine move featuring Addy and Mullen, scoring a try which Reynolds converted to make it 24-10.
A second try of the game for Broughton in the 52nd minute kept Halifax within striking distance though Tyrer again missed the conversion.
Reynolds kicked his third penalty of the second half after Halifax were caught holding down and with 15 minutes remaining, Halifax’s ex Leigh forward Kevin Larroyer was yellow carded for a shoulder charge. Once again, Reynolds made no mistake with the boot.
As the game entered the final 10 minutes, Leigh sealed victory when Hood broke brilliantly from inside his own half and he sent Scott on an angled run to the tryline for his hat-trick try. Reynolds’ conversion opened up a 20-point lead for the home side.
The final word went to the visitors as Shaun Robinson scored a try which Tyrer converted in the dying moments.
Leigh: Mullen, Scott, Sa’u, I Thornley, Higson, Reynolds, Sammutt, Mason, Hood, Ioane, Hellewell, Glohe, Addy. Subs: Wildie, Thompson, Gerrard, Bienek
Tries: Scott 3, Hood, Higson
Goals: Reynolds 7
Halifax: Grix, Robinson, Tyrer, Saltonstall, Broughton, Murrell. Woodburn-Hall, Hirst, Moore, Calcott, Garside, Brearley, Fairbank. Subs: Davies, Flemming, Barber, Larroyer
Tries: Broughton 2, Barber, Robinson
Goals: Tyrer 2
Referee: James Vella
Main Match Sponsor: Hamilton Fabrications Limited
Matchball Sponsor: Probuild Plumbing & Heating Ltd